Make the Most of the Home You Have

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If you have been in your home for a while you may be restless for change. The great part about having a home of your own is you can make improvements and give your home a chance to evolve over time. You just need to help your home live up to its potential!  Here is a top ten list of improvements that will help you make the most of your home.

    1. Find your home’s purpose. Each home is as unique as its owners, so in order to fully utilize your home, consider how you view your home’s purpose. Some people like to entertain, others find it a calm space in the frenzy of daily life; some nurture their families and others nurture their creativity. Your home’s purpose can be any combination of these and more, but it helps to consider the function of your space in order to ultimately find its purpose.
    2. Assemble a list. A list always helps me figure out where to start or prioritize what is the most important project. Think about what you want to change in your home, inspirations, and preferences.
    3. Make an “inspiration board”. An “inspiration board” is a great way to visualize your home’s decor. You can create a board online with a tool like Pinterest to organize ideas you love or you can do it the old fashioned way with a board, magazine cutouts, color swatches, and fabric samples. Doing this will allow you to see all the elements you like in one place so that you can then tie it all together into a room you love.
    4. Create a collection. If you have items that you like to collect, think about how to transform that collection into something you can display. If you don’t already have a collection of loved objects think about what this collection would be for you. You can center a room design around your travel souvenirs, old camera collection, figurines, unique plates, or familial objects. Adding to this collection over time can be a great way to keep your spaces new  while maintaining a personal feel to your decor.
    5. Choose a new palate. Shake up your sensibilities and think of a color that will compliment your room while making a statement. It’s easy to fall into the white/beige standby to keep our rooms neutral, but sometimes a color that provides a contrast to your décor will make the room pop.
    6. Repurpose an old piece of furniture. Instead of replacing your furniture give it a facelift. You can have a sofa or chairs reupholstered or make use of a slip cover. Also, Painting and staining can add new life to your wood pieces.
    7. Rearrange. Moving furniture around is another easy way to reinvent your space. Try placing your sofa on an angle to open up your entertaining room or move your lamps to improve lighting. You can also think about moving a piece of furniture into a room to give it new life, like using a unique dresser for a credenza or a chair as a side table.
    8. Make a room of your own. Find some space in your home that is uniquely yours, whether this is the corner of the guest room or an office of your own. It can be very rewarding to have a space that you can organize to fit your personal needs without the worries of others intruding
    9. Find an inspirational object. Have you ever fallen in love with an object that inspired you to want to completely redo a room to accommodate it? Designing a room around an inspiring object can be a great way to create a space that truly embodies your design sensibility.
    10. Find design motivation. Home design evolves over time and can be sustained by finding items that inspire you. Read magazines and books that inspire your interests in architecture, design, art, etc. Or find stores and flea markets that sell pieces that influence your aesthetic. Or bring a camera with you when you’re doing your favorite activities and bring back memories or inspirations. Most of all have fun!

What inspires your home design?

Posted on April 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm
Rondi duPont | Category: Blog, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chugging Along

The real estate market keeps chugging along.

Here’s news from the Mortgage Banker’s Association…

Last week, applications to purchase a home hit their highest level since April 2010. This is clearly a sign that the spring selling season is starting off in full swing.

You may remember that the reason why April 2010 was so active is because of the Home Buyer Tax Credit that was in effect. In order to get a special income tax incentive, buyers had to go under contract in April 2010 and close by June 30, 2010.

Today, purchase applications are at their highest level in 9 years and are up 14% over last year. Interest rates are roughly 0.5% lower than 6 months ago and roughly 3.0% below their long-term average.

Let the Spring Selling Season begin!

Posted on April 19, 2019 at 6:24 pm
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Spatially Limited Gardening: The Indoors is the New Outdoors

DecorativeFlower2

It is the official start to the gardening season! For those who have large outdoor spaces, it is the perfect time of year to make a trip to the home and garden store, work in your gardens,  and plant new growth. For those who live in smaller city quarters and whose outdoor space comfortably holds little more than a potted plant, we are forced to be more creative with our green space.

Decorative plants and nurturing vegetation is something that makes my house a home, even if small city living quarters has forced us to learn to take the outdoors- in and work with what space we have. Indoor plants, flowers, and gardens are a pleasing alternative when you do not have the space or the desire to be outdoors. Adding some green to your home can be decorative, fragrant, and even edible.  Planting and nurturing your growth is a fun do-it-yourself project that can be a whole household activity.

Where to start

How will you grow and what supplies will you need? First decide on your method of growing.

Traditional Potted Plants are a great starting point for the non-gardening types. Potting plants is relatively simple, cost efficient, and spatially low maintenance. Check out these ideas for potting and planting in small spaces.

Vertical Gardens break away from the customary terracotta pot. They are both modern and space saving. In a vertical garden you are able to grow a variety of plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetables. They can be practical and decorative inside or out. Learn more about creating your own vertical garden here.

Hydroponic Systems are a soil-free gardening solution that can involve little to no pesticide use. Green Tree’s Hydroponics reports that the growth rate of a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than that of a soil plant. Here’s what it takes to build your own, however you can also purchase hydroponic systems online.

Terrariums are “making a comeback” according to the New York TimesTerrariums can be uniquely ornamental and perfect for tight spaces that need a hint of green. Check out some samples and get design ideas here.

What growing methods have worked well for you?

What to grow?

That are good to eat …

Herbs: growing edible items can be very rewarding. Herbs are my go-to item to grow inside because they are low maintenance and take up little space. I prefer to pot basil, parsley, chives, thyme, cilantro, and oregano.

Grasses, like wheat grass, are becoming popular to grow indoors and decorate your home with.

Fruits and vegetables tend to take up more space and are more demanding. However tomatoes, peppers, radishes, leaf lettuce, potatoes, and carrots are a few fruits/vegetables that will grow well indoors.

That are good to look at …

Several flowers and house plants will flourish and bloom indoors. I enjoy the fragrance of Gardenia and the appeal of a Boston Fern in a hanging basket. However, using a plant encyclopedia will help you find which plant is right for you and your home.

What do you prefer to grow?

Making it look good?

The great part about bringing your garden inside is that it lets you use vegetation as a decoration. Whether you prefer to arrange flowersstring kokedama, or paint a fun plant pot, your vegetation and the way you display it can have an impact to your overall décor. How do you decorate with your vegetation?

Brittany Lockwood works in Marketing at Windermere Real Estate. She is the in-house expert on weatherizing, yard-sales, and interior design.

Posted on April 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm
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Home Warranties Provide Buyers and Sellers With A Peace Of Mind

If you are a homeowner, you probably know all-too-well how costly home repairs can be. And, thanks to Murphy’s Law, appliance break-downs seem to happen at the worst possible time—like when you are selling your home. For this reason, it is in the best interest of all home sellers to consider purchasing a home warranty.

A home warranty offers many advantages to the home seller, the least of which is a peace of mind that your major home appliances are covered in the event of a break down. Most home warranties cover both parts and labor of your home’s most vital systems and major appliances. This protects the home seller from potentially large, unexpected repair bills and also allows the buyer to purchase the home with more confidence. Additionally, a home warranty is usually for the term of at least one year, so any unforeseen repairs/replacements are also covered well after the home has been sold. A home warranty also provides a competitive edge over those homes without warranties because it communicates confidence to buyers. This can add up to a faster selling period, resulting in a more convenient process for all involved.

A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, so the last thing you want as a home seller or buyer, are unexpected home repairs/replacements. Major appliance replacement can cost you several thousand dollars, and during the process of a home sale/purchase, your budget doesn’t often allow for costly expenses. A home warranty is designed to protect you from these types of expenditures. Furthermore, it is convenient for home sellers because a home warranty offers after-sale liability. While an inspection may find many faults that are covered by a home warranty, it cannot account for latent problems that are beyond an inspection’s scope, or problems that occur down the road. In most cases, a home warranty will cover these expenses, alleviating potential financial burdens for the seller once they have sold the home.

When considering a home warranty, it’s important to ask the right questions. Warranties vary from one company to the next and there are also many different types of coverage available. Your Realtor should be able to help you with this process. First and foremost, you should identify which components of the home will be covered by the warranty. It’s also important to attain annual costs and the charge for service calls. You will want to ask what the total dollar limit is on the warranty and what the limits are for the individual items that are covered. Many home sellers purchase home warranties, which are then passed along to the homebuyer when they move into the home. As a homebuyer, you may want to look into whether or not the coverage can be renewed once the warranty has expired.

According to American Home Shield, one of the largest home warranty companies in the nation, the average home warranty customer uses their warranty plan 2.3 times. Furthermore, the number of home warranties is increasing with every year because homeowners are becoming more informed of their benefits. Eventually home warranties will become commonplace, as buyers and sellers realize the advantages they offer. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that a home warranty is a very simple, cost-effective way to purchase a peace of mind for both homebuyers and sellers alike.

Posted on April 15, 2019 at 4:37 pm
Rondi duPont | Category: Blog, For Buyers, For Buyers & Sellers, For Sellers | Tagged , , , , ,

Which Market?

Well, it depends!

First, let’s define each market. According to research, a buyer’s market exists when there is more than 4-6 months of inventory on the market.

If it would take longer than 4-6 months to sell out all of the inventory currently for sale, then it is a buyer’s market.

This calculation is obviously a function of the amount of inventory on the market and the current pace of sales.

A seller’s market exists if it would take shorter than 4-6 months.

So, which is it?

It depends very much on the price range.

Here are the numbers for Northern Colorado:

• $300,000 to $400,000 = 0.9 months
• $400,000 to $500,000 = 1.9 months
• $500,000 to $750,000 = 2.3 months
• $750,000 and over = 5.8 months

So, most price ranges are a clear seller’s market. It’s not until $750,000 and over that the market starts to approach a more balanced state.


Here’s one more thing that might help you…

You probably don’t need a reminder that this is tax season.

Not only because tax returns are due in two weeks but also because you will soon receive your property tax notification in the mail.

Every two years your County re-assesses the value of your property and then sends that new value to you.

When this happens, many of our clients:

  • Don’t agree with the new assessed value
  • Aren’t sure what to do
  • Are confused by the process
  • Want to save money on property taxes

Good news! We have a webinar that will help you. On the webinar we will show you:

  • How to read the information from the County
  • What it means for you
  • How to protest the valuation if you want
  • How to get an accurate estimate of your property’s value

You can listen to the webinar live or get the recording. In any case, you can sign up at www.WindermereWorkshop.com

The webinar is April 17th at 10:00. If you can’t join live, go ahead and register so you can automatically receive the recording.

This is a complimentary online workshop for all of our clients. I hope you can join!

Posted on April 12, 2019 at 6:53 pm
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Increase your living space—and your home’s value

Cooking and dining alfresco is arguably the single greatest thing about warm weather in spring and summer, but most backyard barbeques involve a million trips to and from the kitchen. As such, one of the hottest trends in new home construction is outdoor kitchens. Outdoor kitchens typically feature a comfortable eating area with a combination of cabinets, sinks, warming drawers, prep counters, ranges, and refrigerators—all within arm’s reach of the grill. Outdoor kitchens provide a natural gathering spot for friends and family and can add to the value of your home.

How elaborate your outdoor kitchen should be depends on how often you plan to use it. Some people enjoying dining outdoors every evening, while others reserve it for special occasions and social gatherings. Regardless of the frequency of use, you need to use materials that do well in all kinds of weather. Stone sinks, stainless steel cabinets, and slate countertops will withstand the Seattle rain, as well as the months that pass between barbeque seasons. Many outdoor kitchens also feature pergolas or other roof structures to shield guests from sun and rain. Something else to consider is adding an outdoor gas heater or fireplace, which will extend the amount of time you can use your outdoor kitchen into the fall and winter months.

In addition to the convenience of having all your grilling accoutrements within a handy distance, a well-built outdoor kitchen also adds to the value of your home. And you don’t have to have a new home to reap the benefits. With the right space and backyard layout, owners of existing homes can easily add-on an outdoor kitchen area. When adding an outdoor kitchen to an existing home, power, gas, and water lines often have to be extended from the home, so be sure to hire a qualified contractor to do the work for you. By extending your living space outside, you have essentially increased the square footage of your home. In many cases the increase in your home’s value will equal or even sometimes exceed the cost of the project itself.

The benefits of an outdoor kitchen area and living space are many. And with the convenience of having your drinks, condiments, meat, and cooking space all in one easy-to-reach place, you can spend the precious summer moments right where you should—outside with friends and family.

What features would you include in an outdoor kitchen?

Posted on April 10, 2019 at 4:35 pm
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The Risks, Rewards, and Benefits of Owning Rental Property

PiggyBankSavings

One area of the real estate market that is thriving right now is rental property. In the first quarter of this year, landlords and property managers across the country rented more apartments and homes than they have during the first quarters of the past ten years. And according to the Wall Street Journal, the amount that renters are willing to pay has also jumped to a nationwide average of $991 per month.

All indications suggest that the rental market will continue to improve because of the combination of low vacancy rates and rising rents. In fact, the demand for rentals is predicted to far exceed supply through 2015, with some 4.5 million new renters expected to enter the market in the next five years.

What to consider before buying a rental
Being a landlord has its challenges. The recession took a toll on rental prices for a few years and any future economic downturns could do the same. Once the job market returns to normal, there’s a strong possibility that more people will choose to move from rentals into homes of their own. And the demand for rental properties could become oversaturated at some point, resulting in an investment bubble of its own.

What’s more, while the income from a rental property can be significant, it can take at least five years before you’re making much more than what you need just to cover the mortgage and expenses. In other words, the return on your investment doesn’t happen overnight.

However, in the long run, if you select the right property, it could turn out to be one of your best investment decisions ever—especially since rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other investment.

Tax deductions for the taking
One of the great things about owning rental properties is the fact that you’re able to deduct so many of the associated expenses—including a sizable portion of your monthly mortgage payment.

The commissions and fees paid to obtain your mortgage are not deductible, but the mortgage interest you pay each month is—including any money you pay into an escrow account to cover taxes and insurance. Whatever your mortgage company reports as interest on your 1098 form at the end of each year can likely be deducted.

For example, you may be eligible to deduct credit card interest “for goods and services used in a rental activity,” repairs made to the building, travel related to your rental, expenses related to a home office or workshop devoted to your rental, the wages of anyone you hire to work on the building, damages to your rental property, associated insurance premiums, and fees you pay for legal and professional services. However, as is the case with any transaction of this type, be sure to consult your attorney or accountant for detailed tax information.

What to look for
As with any real estate investment, the location of the property and its overall condition are both key. But with rental properties, there are some other factors you’ll also want to consider:

 Utilities: Look for a building with separate utilities (water, electric, and gas, etc.) for each rental unit. This will make it far easier to legally charge for the fair use of what can be a very costly monthly expense.

 Competition: If your property is one of the few rentals in the neighborhood, there will be less competition for interested renters.

 Transportation: Rentals that are near popular public transportation options and / or major freeways (without being so close that noise is an issue) are usually easier to rent—and demand more money.

 Landscaping: Properties with small yards and fewer plantings are far easier and less expensive to manage.

 Off-street parking: Not only is off-street parking a desirable feature (people with nice cars usually don’t like to park on the street), it’s also a requirement for rental properties in some communities.

How to start your search
Unlike homes, rental properties do not typically have a visible ‘for-sale’ sign standing out front (as landlords don’t want to irritate, bring attention to their current renters, or turn off any prospective renters). Therefore, if you are interested in a rental property, your best option is to schedule an appointment with your real estate agent/broker to discuss your investment goals and identify what opportunities currently exist in your market place.

Posted on April 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm
Rondi duPont | Category: Blog, Landlords | Tagged , , , , , ,

Top 10 qualities to look for in an agent

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Buying a home is one of the most significant financial and emotional purchases of a person’s life. That’s why it is so important to find an agent that can not only help you navigate the home search process, but one who can also answer your questions and represent your needs from start to finish. Most importantly, your agent should care about your happiness and ensuring that you find the home that best fits your needs.  Here are some qualities to consider when selecting a real estate agent:

    1. Someone you like. More than likely, you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, so look for someone that you enjoy interacting with.
    2. Someone you trust. One of the best ways to find an agent who you feel you can trust is to ask friends and family for a referral. Another way to do this is to interview different agents and ask for client references.
    3. Someone who listens. While your agent can’t read your mind, they should be able to make educated recommendations and offer advice by listening closely to your needs. Make sure you talk to your agent about your priorities, what types of features appeal to you, as well as any factors that could be deal breakers. This will arm your agent with everything they need to help find you the perfect home.
    4. Qualified and experienced. Make sure your agent has the qualifications and experience to meet your specific needs. For example, some agents have more experience with short sales, while others might be experts on certain neighborhoods or types of housing.  Your agent should also be fully trained in contract law and negotiations.
    5. Knowledgeable. A great agent is someone who is out in the neighborhoods, exploring communities, visiting listings, performing marketing analyses, and collecting all the information that you need to make an informed, confident decision about your real estate needs.
    6. Honest. Your agent should be upfront and honest with you about every aspect of your home search process – even if it involves delivering bad news. The best real estate agents are more concerned about finding the right home for their clients, not just the home that brings in the fastest commission check.
    7. Local. Every community is different and all real estate is local, so it’s important to find someone who really knows the local market and can provide you with whatever information you need to familiarize yourself with a particular area.
    8. Connected. A well connected agent will have relationships with lenders, inspectors, appraisers, contractors, and any other service provider you might need during your home search.
    9. Straight forward. You want an agent who will work hard to help you find the best home, but you also want someone who will be straight forward with you about the process, the market reality, and what is realistic for you.
    10. Committed. Your agent should be in it for the long haul, meaning that they’re looking out for your best interests every step of the way, no matter how long the process takes. The best way to find an agent with these qualities is by asking around. In all likelihood, someone within your circle of friends or family will have experiences to share and professionals to recommend. You can also search for agents based on area, so you know you’re getting someone who is knowledgeable of the neighborhood(s) you’re interested in. Click here to learn more about the buying process.

 

Posted on April 4, 2019 at 4:30 pm
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Weekend Warrior: Quick projects to upgrade your home

Memorial Day traditionally represents the kick-off of summer. Kids are getting out of school, families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbeques are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following is a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process.

Outdoor spaces

GardeningGardening– It’s not too late to start your garden! This weekend I will be planting an herb garden; I planted summer vegetables a few weeks ago.  If you’re thinking of doing the same, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season.

Outdoor living– My home has an outdoor space with great potential, including a partially covered patio perfect for entertaining. This weekend I plan to upgrade the space with small touches to make it summer party ready. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbeque.

BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners.

Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges.

Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen.

Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool get this ready for a summer season of fun in the sun, (unless you are lucky enough to enjoy your pool year-round). Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out, as I learned one particularly hot July!

De-winterize- I once was doused head to toe when we were turning the water back on to our exterior pipes because the pipe had split in the winter- so make sure all your pipes survived the cold, check your winterized projects and prepare your house for summer.  This is also a good time to look around the exterior, checking roof, gutters and siding.

Summerize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather items such as heavy blankets, jackets and other items so they aren’t in your way. Same goes for any sundry items you only use during fall and winter.

 

Inside spaces

Lighten the Space- Though I likely won’t spend much time inside once the mercury rises, I want to keep the house as light and cool as possible. I have found that replacing the curtains with a lighter shade lets the light in, but also keeps the rooms from overheating from sun exposure. Summer always makes me want to lighten up with the accessories- lighter colors, more whites, bright accents and less clutter.

Rearrange – Freshen up spaces by rearranging some of your wall art. If you don’t have enough wall pieces to rearrange regularly it may be time to add to your collection. You can find inexpensive original art online at stores such as Etsy or in person at local galleries. You can always play with other items like framed images from books, vintage posters or record albums. Here are some terrific ideas for using what you have to add interest to a room.

SpringCleanupAir it out- Open all the windows, shake out the rugs and update home fragrances to fit summer moods (citrus, freesia, clean linen, coconut, melon, fruits and tropical, etc.). You can create your own diffuser with essential oils to distribute fragrance. This may be more symbolic than practical but it always makes me feel ready for summer.

Paint- If you have a room you really want to refresh, a three-day weekend is a good time to take on a project of scale, so you have plenty of time to prep, paint, dry, and clean up. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to really transform how a room feels. Need help picking colors and paint type? Here is some good advice.

Garage or Basement- Tackle a big space that makes a big difference. Our garages and basements often become year-long dumping grounds for seasonal decorations and clothing, items that don’t fit in cabinets, memorabilia and maintenance tools. Go through your items and sort by keep, throw out and donate/sell and then group your keeps by function. Make sure your tools are accessible for easy gardening and entertaining by making sure your tools are accounted for, ready to go, and easy to reach. Here is a useful video on garage organization.

Yard/Garage Sale- If you have overflow at your house, plan a yard/garage sale to get rid of items you no longer need or want. Just make sure to pack everything up and donate it at the end of the sale otherwise you are just letting the clutter back in!

Plan a party- Once your space is all cleaned up and redecorated you will want to show it off! Plan a summer BBQ, dinner party, pool party, picnic or any other gathering.

What are your planning for Memorial Day weekend?

Posted on April 3, 2019 at 4:29 pm
Rondi duPont | Category: Blog, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s Tax Time

You probably don’t need a reminder that this is tax season.

Not only because tax returns are due in two weeks but also because you will soon receive your property tax notification in the mail.

Every two years your County re-assesses the value of your property and then sends that new value to you.

When this happens, many of our clients:

  • Don’t agree with the new assessed value
  • Aren’t sure what to do
  • Are confused by the process
  • Want to save money on property taxes

Good news! We have a webinar that will help you. On the webinar we will show you:

  • How to read the information from the County
  • What it means for you
  • How to protest the valuation if you want
  • How to get an accurate estimate of your property’s value

You can listen to the webinar live or get the recording. In any case, you can sign up at www.WindermereWorkshop.com

The webinar is April 17th at 10:00. If you can’t join live, go ahead and register so you can automatically receive the recording.

This is a complimentary online workshop for all of our clients. I hope you can join!

Posted on March 30, 2019 at 1:38 am
Rondi duPont | Category: Blog, Fun Facts | Tagged , , , , , ,